For over a year now, driving on I-25 through the middle of Denver has included a pique in curiosity as the wooden towers at the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus were built and then painted. Now, on June 3, that $2.3 million exhibit is opening to the public as Adventure Forest — a 500-foot long aerial adventure course with immersive art.
Although there are the typical obstacles you might find in other aerial courses — rope swings, nets to crawl over, prism slides and a “slinky crawl” — this one distinguishes itself by providing an overarching narrative through the art. Through the hieroglyphs of a made-up language, there is a message to discover during your time in the forest — a message to inspire empathy, curiosity, wonder and explorations of identity.
Of course, since the Adventure Forest is part of the Children’s Museum, it’s for children. Or is it? The immersive art that covers every inch of the structure, inside and out, was beautifully created by the museum’s artist-in-residence Wes Sam-Bruce. Sam-Bruce has participated in many artist-in-residency programs and community projects that allow his art to become the centerpiece for discovery — for all ages. He believes that “art education” — like the Adventure Forest — “can be a social tool for justice, growing empathy and empowering your skills of asking great questions, to become a better listener to the world around you.”
Even if some of the younger children won’t understand the powerful ideas that fuel the art in the Adventure Forest, their interactions with the course prove that Sam-Bruce is onto something. Instead of the cold, single-colored bars of a playground, every surface of Adventure Forest is filled with something mesmerizing. Handwritten words cover the floorboards in several rooms, glass cabinets hold antique-store treasures, a game with flags and letters connects people on the ground with people in the air, bundles of found objects hang from the ceilings — it’s a cornucopia of sensory immersion.
The Children’s Museum hopes to open the Adventure Forest to adults on special “Adult Nights” so everyone can take part in the magical discovery process. After working for three years with the general contractor Bonsai Design, the artist Sam-Bruce and Denver Parks and Recreation — it’s something the museum, and the in-house staff who helped is proud of.
The major bonus of Adventure Forest? It has one of the best views in Denver.
The Children’s Museum is located at 2121 Children’s Museum Drive.